MetLife Sees 2009 Profit Missing Analysts' Estimates (Update1)

By Andrew Frye
Bloomberg News
December 8, 2008

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- MetLife Inc., the biggest U.S. life insurer, said it expects 2009 operating profit to fall short of analysts' estimates as the economy weakens.

Earnings, excluding investment gains and losses, will probably be $3.60 to $4.00 a share, the New York-based company said today in a statement distributed by Business Wire. That compares with the $4.48 average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

MetLife reported a 38 percent drop in third-quarter profit after annuity deposits declined and investments backing policies dropped in value. The insurer sold $2.3 billion in stock in October to bolster finances and brace against further losses on stocks and corporate debt amid the slowing economy.

"In 2009, a number of challenges posed by both the equity and credit markets will continue to make for a difficult environment," Chief Executive Officer Robert Henrikson said in the statement.

MetLife expects fourth-quarter net income to rise to $1.2 billion to $2 billion, or $1.50 a share to $2.55, from $1.1 billion, or $1.44, in the year-earlier period on investment gains, the company said in the statement. Operating results for the three months to the end of December will probably come in between a 5-cent loss and a 20-cent profit, MetLife said.

MetLife had operating profit of $6.25 a share in 2007 and is expected to report earnings of $4.41 this year, according to the average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

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